What is an essay? | how many types of essays are there?

parliament of india

What is an essay? | how many types of essays are there?


An essay is a short composition in which a writer gives his personal interpretation of an event, a situation, an object or a problem. It is a presentation based on his personal experiences and perceptions. It is regarded as a literary composition in which more than the originality of ideas the viewpoint or the approach of the writer is valued. The essay is written in a personal style with the reader in mind. If a reader does not enjoy reading it, the purpose would be defeated and it would not be considered a good essay. The reader should be able to respond to it and appreciate it the way he does any piece of literature.

Essays are generally classified into the following five types which are briefly explained below:

1. Narrative Essay

Incidents or happenings are narrated chronologically in a narrative essay. We try to give a sequential account of whatever has happened. In such essays, you are required to adopt the approach and style of a narrator or storyteller trying to gradually move towards the climax or the main event. While the focus in these essays is on the main event, the events leading to it are not lost sight of. A good, striking beginning and truthful account of the events, an element of suspense and excitement presented in interesting style will make narrative essays effective. A few examples of narrative essays are:

My first visit to Kanyakumari.
The Day when everything went wrong.
An Unsuccessful tour to Rajasthan.

2. Descriptive Essay

The writer describes an object, a place, an event or a natural phenomenon. He tries to create visual images and works on his subject like a painter. Before starting the essay of this type you should be clear about your objective — the central idea that you wish to convey or the main impression you wish to create. Some of the examples of a descriptive essay are:

A River in Flood.
A Road Accident.
An Earthquake.
A Street Quarrel.
My Favourite Film Star.

3. Expository or Reflective Essay

The reflective essay contains the thoughts of its author. It can be written on abstract topics or some important problems. A reflective essay tests the level of your general awareness, the grasp, and understanding of the given topic, the ability to think clearly of the various aspects of the problem, and the maturity of your ideas. The ability to organize these ideas logically and draw correct conclusions from your discussion is the important requisites for writing an effective essay of this type. In the reflective essay, you are required to develop and present your own viewpoint. Some of the examples of this category are:

Value of Discipline.
Caste System in India.
Importance of Technical Education.
The problem of Environmental Degradation.

4. Argumentative Essay

The argumentative essay deals with a subject on which people hold conflicting views and opinions. They are written on topics which can be debated and on which people can advance heated arguments for or against the view. For instance, in recent times a lot of people debated whether India should make nuclear weapons or should concentrate only on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Similarly, the view that India should discard the present form of government and switch over to the Presidential form as in the United States of America has generated heated arguments for and against the view. To write this type of essay you should first make up your mind as to which view you support and why. You must have your arguments to support the position you take up. While trying to prove your point do not ignore the other view altogether. Give it due to recognition but try to show its weaknesses and faults logically and prove your point by giving evidence. Bias or prejudice should not be reflected in your essay. Some examples of the argumentative essay are:

Should India go Nuclear?
Should all the Banks be privatized?

5. Imaginative essay

It is a type of essay in which you can imagine yourself in a situation or take up a hypothetical position. You can indulge in flights of fancy and give expression to your faculty of imagination. Some of the topics for the imaginative essay can be:

India of My Dreams.
How Man will communicate in the 22nd Century.
If I were a Multi-millionaire.

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